The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's time to call a spade...

...a shovel.

Racism isn't funny. Neither is being called a racist. There has been much talk about Jimmy Carter's declaration that an "overwhelming portion" of those of us who intensely disagree with President Obama, are racist.

Then there was a numbskull who hollered "you lie" as the president addressed congress and there were more declarations that nutcases were displaying hatefull placards which provided more evidence that those who attend tea parties, those who voice their concerns with the Democratic line must be bigots, not because they disagree with Obama, but because Obama is black. Certainly no Democrat would EVER be so disrespectful that they would portray a Republican as Hitler the way Obama has been portrayed. That would never happen.

Now, people who disagree with Obama, having been called bigots and racists, have reacted with anger. And the Democrats who made the accusation feign surprise, and the dialog has changed to racism in America from health care in America. The diversion worked. And, that's too bad.

The question is NOT "what color is our president?" The question is "where is our president leading us?" Let us from here on judge Mr. Obama on the content of his character. I believe time will reveal his character for what it is.


Bill Fleming said...

Mike, I like the unwritten debate rule that says if one has to stoop to comparisons with Hitler, one automatically forfeits the argument.

That said,your "spade" metaphor is umm... well... unfortunate.

Neal said...

Bill, just because the word "spade" can have some racial connotation (depending on the intent of the speaker), that doesn't mean that the phrase "calling a spade a spade" has any resemblance whatsoever to a racial slur. The origin of the phrase has nothing to do with race, in fact originated way before "spade" took on racial tones.

Bill Fleming said...

I know that, Neal.

But in the context of this discussion it seems — as I said to Michael — an unfortunate (or perhaps excellent, depending on your sense of humor) choice of words, especially when he seems to be (jokingly) digging the same hole by calling a "spade" a "shovel," presumably for faux PC reasons.

i.e. if he's not referencing "spade" as a known pejorative racial term, (granted in an attempt at satirical humor) then what is his headline all about?

Michael is a good writer.

All of his words are there for a reason.

He wouldn't write such a thing absentmindedly.

I just watched Clint Eastwood's "Grand Torino" last night. Good show. But I couldn't help noticing the subtle deference and respect he gave to African Americans in the movie on at least two occasions.

Knowing Eastwood's love for jazz, I think I appreciate why.

What I'm talking about is an attitude that I see in the Republican ranks these days. It's an attitude that Michael also recognizes and fights as well. It's one of the things I think we have in common politically, despite some of our other differences.

The attitude we fight was perhaps best exemplified by Eastwood's character in "Grand Torino" in passing in a joke he told to his pals in a bar:

"Three guys come into a bar, a Mexican, a Jew, and a Colored Guy.* The bartender says, "Get the f**k outta here."

End of joke.

It was that attitude, and the characters transcendence of it that I believe was the theme of the movie as well as the theme of my remarks here.

*Interesting note, he didn't say the "N" word, or "Spade" or worse. It was a telling part of the script in my opinion, a forecast of the real soul inside the crusty exterior being projected.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute. Democrats compared Bush to Hitler (bad move) so that means that when Republicans use racist language and imagery toward Obama, they aren't racist?

Notice the two DIFFERENT things here?

Hitler comparisons were YOUR distraction. Now what do you have to say about racism?

Taunia Adams said...

Do discussions like this change anyone's minds at all?

Does anyone leave here (or any other blog/news site/t.v. program/etc.) and say, "You know, I'm a damned racist, and I shouldn't be!"?

I've never seen anyone's minds change concerning this subject. Their kids, on the hand, is where to start.

Michael Sanborn said...

Bill, my point is that racism is not funny. It's not funny when it happens, and we all concede it happens. It's not funny when people are unfairly called racists because a loud and obnoxious minority in their political party demonstrate themselves to be racist.

And, notice there were no cookware analogies posted here in discussions of placards with Hitler's image.

In the end, my point is that the race card was played by Carter, a Democrat, and it successfully moved the debate from health care to racism. Crafty, but disingenuous.

And few of us are comforted by the President's publicity about how he isn't going to enter the race debate.

Of course that has to be his position just as it was when he played the card in the primary against Mrs. Clinton.

Michael Sanborn said...

My choice of the "spade" metaphor was not an accident. The headline was designed to grab the reader in light of previous posts.

Then, it was my hope that readers would follow the photos down the page, anticipating some racist punch line, only to find the punch was neither racist or funny. All along, the point was that racism isn't funny. I don't think that was lost on very many.

Bill Fleming said...

I'd like to go there with you about Carter, Michael, I really would.

But I can't for the life of me see why Carter would want to intentionally and cynically set up a distraction around the health care issue or how it in any way would advance the Dems cause to do so.

Please enlighten me, ok?

Because I think Carter was speaking from his personal experience and from the heart. He may have exaggerated the proportions, but that's easy to do in the heat of emotion.

Just ask Joe ("You Lie!") Wilson. Or Sarah ("I read all the newspapers and magazines there are, Katie.") Palin.

Michael Sanborn said...

Okay Bill, maybe I'm seeing a vast left wing conspiracy where there isn't one.

I'm certain Carter is familiar with racism. So am I. His "overwhelming portion" is insulting. Very insulting and was bound to create the hub-bub it created, all diverting attention away from what will likely be Obama's first significant defeat as president.

To your point, I cannot think of a single thing Carter has done, ever that was a net positive for the Democratic Party. I believe him to be an honorable man. But, he is also the perfect incompetent to make such a loaded declaration because Obama can distance himself from it easily, because he's not terribly well thought of.

He was the perfect shill for the job.

Bill Fleming said...

"...Obama's first significant defeat as president."

That being?

Are you talking about Health Care Reform?

Michael Sanborn said...

I'm talking about meaningful health care reform before the Christmas break.

Bill Fleming said...

Well, IF that happens, it will be as much a failure of Congress as of Obama, don't you think, Michael?

Unlike the Hillary Clinton approach of drafting a bill and trying to twist arms to get everyone to sponsor it unaltered, the Obama approach has been to leave the authoring of the bill(s) to the legislature and simply telegraph his specifications as to the type of law he will (and will not) sign.

If Congress fails to bring such a bill forth, I don't really see how Obama should be held 100% accountable for that.

He's always said he's looking for bi-partisan agreement on this. I'm sure he and the Dems could ram a bill through via reconciliation/budget resolution where only 51% of the Senate vote is required, but he's trying to get your party (and the...ahem... Blue Dogs) to play ball.

If they refuse, how is that all Obama's fault?

I look at it this way, In 5 years, anyone who has his/her name on meaningful health care reform will be a national saint, and those who opposed it won't get elected dog catcher.

The Repubs position on this is extremely short sighted. You may create the temporary appearance of having won a battle, but in so doing will have totally lost the war. I think there may be only a very small number of Republicans who understand this.

And as a Democrat, that's just fine by me.

Now, if the Dems would just calm down and write bill that meets Obama's specs. So far, there are none on the table. None.

Michael Sanborn said...

I agree completely. Obama should not be held accountable for what Congress does not do. But you've been around politics long enough to know that voters will do just that.

Republican efforts to take part in a bi-partisan solution have been snubbed by Reed and Pelosi as they threaten the "nuclear" option you describe.

Republicans have been absolutely excluded from the process. Their efforts to discuss tort reform, single payer, public options, etc. have been met not only with silence, but with a concerted effort to exclude them from the discussion.

So, when it fails, as I believe it should, Congress should be held 100 percent accountable and the Democrats control the Congress. As such, there will be Hell to pay in 2010. I don't think Republicans will gain control of either chamber, but I predict there will be fewer Democrats in Congress in 2011.

Bill Fleming said...

Could happen. We're a fickle bunch us voters. So, which chamber takes the bigger proportional hit, Mike? House or Senate?

Michael Sanborn said...

I think nationwide, and particularly here in the plains states, there is more frustration with Pelosi. I've little doubt she'll be returned by her constituents. But Democrats elsewhere will suffer the wounds she's inflicted upon them. Proportionally, I think the House Democrats take a bigger hit, but still I don't believe there's near enough for the GOP to gain control.

Bill Fleming said...

Sounds about right.

BTW it might surprise you to know that I don't really think its very good to have one party controlling both chambers and the executive branch, even ours.

But not to worry, Mike, the Blue Dogs are taking real good care of that for you guys.

Donna said...

So let me get this straight- everything thing Bush did was wrong and all his fault.

So now if Obama does/doesn't get something done- we now blame/celebrate Congress ?

Just want to make sure I know where to direct my anger/excitement.

Anonymous said...

"Republicans have been absolutely excluded from the process."

Mike, that's just not true. Sen. Baucus has had his little Gang of 6, with GOPers like Grassley and Enzi stalling, doing their best not to offer any real compromise because their party stands on ideology as more and more citizens suffer both physically and financially.

The GOP won't discuss single payer and public options because the concepts don't fit their worldview. They're not being shut out.

Bill Fleming said...

Correct, Anonymous. Especially worthy of note is Senator Orin Hatch's most recent amendment suggestion that provides transitional relief from the excise tax “for any state with a name that begins with the letter ‘U’.”

This from the guy who claims the reason the Repubs can't be bi-partisan about this is because Teddy Kennedy's not around any more to talk them into it.

Anonymous said...

I agree that comparisons to Hitler do not serve the discussion. However, I think it's worth noting that Bush drew the comparison because his decisions resulted in deaths. The criticism of Obama is rooted in the pocketbook. Lives vs. money. So based on that, who's more worthy of the comparison?

Bill Fleming said...

Fair point, Anonymous. Comparisons to Hitler are most apt to the degree that one wishes to eliminate all members of a given faith or race and/or conversely, those lacking a given faith or race.

No need to name names here, they know who they are.